I had learned of a grant through an acquaintance of mine I met while participating in my town's sidewalk sales (see - you never know who you will meet which is why it is so crucial when starting your own venture to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way!). A large fashion company was holding several grants for women entrepreneurs in my area and would award them to who they thought was most deserving. The application was a written statement describing your business and how you would use the funds if you were awarded with the grant.
This was my first time applying for a grant, and I will 'shorely' keep my ears and eyes open for future opportunities as well!
This was my essay: (it's long so only if you are interested in reading...)
"From the time I was a little girl I was always very in tune with the way I felt when walking into a new space. I’ll never forget the trip I took when I was ten years old to Miami to see a friend of my mother’s. Her home was so clean and refreshing, like paradise, modern in style and colored with white, beige and aqua. I felt so good while I was there, coming home to an impeccably clean and well-designed home at the end of our fun-filled days at the beach. The memory of that good feeling never went away, and it is what drives me as a home stylist and home décor online-retailer. As my mission states: The way you feel when you walk into your home completely affects your mood. I strive to create my products and share my finds to influence their found spaces and create a peaceful and refreshing environment inspired by the calmness and tranquility of the sea.
I came home from my day job in Human Resources one summer ago and knew I had to make a change in my life. I refused to continue living with self- pity because my career was lacking the creativity and fulfillment I dreamed I would have as an art history major in college. Although I had become comfortable with the corporate salary, the lack of interest and passion in what I was doing was making me very unhappy. I wanted to be in the world of interior design and had the passion, education and, ‘eye for design’, but no professional experience that could land me a paid position.
I came up with the name ‘Shorely Chic’ for my love of the beach and chic interiors. I bought the domain name and started making little house wares like shell covered picture frames and mirrors, decoupage coasters, vases, and having my mother sew throw pillows from fabric I picked up at my favorite shops in the city. I have always been an avid collector of unique vintage pieces and thought those would be a nice touch to my collection. As soon as I had enough inventory, I opened up shop on Etsy.com. I worked on my new store constantly, in the mornings before work, during my lunch break, at night and on weekends. I was working harder than ever and had become the happiest I’ve ever been diving into what I love and even making sales here and there!
To go along with my new Etsy shop, I started a blog about all that inspires me and as a way to document my venture into the world of design. I post a daily article on all things, ‘Shorely Chic’, including inspiring photos of interiors, up and coming designers, recaps of different design events I attend, etc… With the blog came a facebook fan page which has now reached over 1700 fans (!) and a twitter account. I have met countless people in the industry thorough these online venues and I cherish many of the new relationships I have formed from new friends, business partners, and mentors.
A large part of Shorely Chic has also involved being active in my local community. I have had many opportunities to benefit local charities and causes from participating as a vendor, buying advertisement, and donating my pieces for auctions and raffles. This summer, I collaborated with a fellow designer from my town and started, ‘Trunk Show for a Cause’, where we find willing and able hosts and hostess and donate a portion all profits towards the charity of their choice. We believe this is a good way to not only get our name out there, but make a difference as well. Being involved in the Chamber of Commerce has also been a huge part of my success, introducing me to people and places all over Fairfield County.
If awarded with the ******* grant for young women entrepreneurs I would invest in my education by taking courses in interior design, a sewing course, and a business course to help me advance my business practices that I have been ‘winging’ so far. I would also love to purchase a new camera to enhance the quality of photos I put up on my shop website and blog. As I have shared this whole experience with the world so far through my blog and facebook, I will most definitely be documenting this first time experience of applying for a grant and my strategies and goals of putting the grant to use in building Shorely Chic. I hope that by doing this, my fellow women entrepreneurs can see the assistance that is out there, and maybe take the step in applying for other grants to pursue something they are interested in as well.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of my venture into the world of entrepreneurship is the inspiration I have given others to follow their dreams and pursue their passions. Throughout the course of my first year, I’ve received a number of emails and phone calls from old friends and classmates, and perfect strangers, commending me on taking this leap and doing what I love, and how it has motivated and inspired them to do the same. They say the best things in life are free, and although I love everything about my pursuing my own craft and chasing success, I am most happy with the inspiration I have given to women all over the world to follow their dreams."